New department of Islamic Art opens at the Louvre

Designed by the Milanese architect Mario Bellini and his colleague Rudy Ricciotti, the new department of Islamic arts opened yesterday at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

The two designers won the commission through an international competition in 2005, creating a naturally lit, subterranean gallery beneath a heaving glass roof within the courtyard of the Cour Visconti.

The lower level and long sculpted staircase of the gallery is made up of a special black waxed concrete creating a contrast between the floating glass roof and the glass walls.

One key challenge of the project was to design a contemporary space that can comfortably co-exist with the surrounding facades.

“The solution was a foulard that undulates as if suspended in space by the wind, almost touching the ground of the courtyard at one point, but without totally encumbering it or contamination the historic facades,” said Bellini.